The PM hosted a Downing Street summit on the issue of discrimination in the sport, arguing that impressionable young fans will imitate abusive behaviour
Prime minister David Cameron has outlined his intention to “crush” racism in football after recent high-profile controversies returned dominated the sport’s headlines.
Cameron was speaking as the host of an anti-discrimination summit at Downing Street with several football figures and equality campaigners in attendance.
The Conservative Party leader claimed that young fans are being influenced by what they see and hear at football grounds and therefore racism must be abolished.
Cameron admitted that the sport has "some problems still today", supposedly in reference to recent cases of racial abuse involving recently revoked England captain John Terry and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.
“We need to act quickly to make sure those problems do not creep back in ... if everyone plays their role, then we can easily crush and deal with this problem," the Prime minister said.
“What happens on the field influences what happens off the field. You see children as young as six imitating the behaviour they see on the field .
“So this is not just important for football — it's important for the whole country.
“We want to make sure football is all about a power to do good, rather than anything else.”
The chairman of the Football Association, David Bernstein, reiterated at the summit the organisation’s desire to fight the re-emergence of racism.
“We have committed to coming back with a detailed follow-up to this in two months,” he declared.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt, the government’s Sport Secretary, added his view that football must re-evaluate “how we draw the line between banter and offensive language”.
The conference also addressed the topic of homophobia, and Hunt questioned the sport’s attitude to issues of sexuality, noting that there are currently 563 registered players in the Premier League but “none of them are out as gay”.
“Potentially, gay people don't want to be become Premier League footballers because they are intimidated ... or they don't think the environment makes it possible for them,” said the Secretary.
Amal Fashanu, the niece of Justin Fashanu, who remains the only English footballer to have come out while still playing and was tragically found hanged in 1998 aged just 37, was among those attending the meeting.